When we think of extreme weather in Texas, we generally think of severe thunderstorms, hail, wind, and tornados, but ice storms can be just as dangerous and damaging. There’s also a human factor when snow and ice hit Texas that increases the likelihood of severe injuries and even death-the untrained, inexperienced, and careless driver.
A Federal Highway Administration report states that on average, icy roads cause 151,944 vehicle accidents, 38,770 crash injuries, and 559 crash fatalities a year. These ice-related accidents produce roughly 11% of all weather-related accidents in the country. This is alarming because it shows how dangerous icy roads can be, but it should also alert you to the possibility of personal injury or property damage if you decide to drive in icy conditions.
Icy Roads in the Texas News (2018)
- January 1, 2018 – DFW ice storm causing accidents
- January 3, 2018 – Accidents caused by ice in Houston
- February 20, 2018 – Abilene pre-treating roads in anticipation of icy conditions
- February 22, 2018 – Winter Storm Oliver hits hard, causing damage and accidents across U.S.
The Basics of Negligent Driving in Texas
In the simplest form, negligence involves:
- A duty to a person (the duty to be a careful, safe driver);
- A breach of that duty (driving too fast, etc); and
- That breach causing damages to another person (property damage, injuries, or death caused by a car accident).
Every driver has a basic duty to other drivers to drive safely and not collide with anyone. This requires them to drive as a reasonably prudent person would drive in the given situation. When they breach that duty, or collide with another person or vehicle, they may be liable for the physical or financial damages they caused. But what if the roads were icy and the driver lost control?
Ice is NO Defense to an Accident! | Liability for Accident and Injuries in Winter Conditions
Drivers are expected to take note of weather and road conditions and adjust their driving accordingly. When the temperatures are near or below freezing and precipitation is present, there is a strong possibility of ice on the roads. Because a driver should know of the chance of icy conditions, they should drive as a reasonably prudent person would drive on icy roads. Blaming the ice will not work if the driver crashes into another car on the road.
Precautionary Measures for Driving in Icy Weather | Driving in Texas in the Winter
When there may be ice on the roads, you should take precautionary measures when driving:
- Don’t drive unless you have to;
- Follow your local news or go to drivetexas.org* to get updates on road conditions;
- Drive below the speed limit;
- Do not get distracted from the road; and
- Avoid hills, bridges, and low spots if you can.
If you are hit by a driver who was driving in icy conditions, even if they lost control, they may be liable for negligently driving. You should contact your attorney with the accident report and any other information from the accident to help work through your options.
For more winter weather driving tips, click here.
*drivetexas.org is run by the Texas Department of Transportation who also posts on social media outlets.